I know, it's hard to believe, but being unplugged and off-the-grid for almost a month this January had its downside. The digital detox left me refreshed, satiated and excited to step back into life outside of retreat. Yet, like a little bird eager to venture out of the nest, I was raw and vulnerable. The news of raging fires in Australia, viral illness spreading from China, more evidence of receding glaciers and disturbing political maneuvers all fell heavily on my heart. You know the feeling. It doesn't take being off-the grid to feel the collapse of the heart when we turn to the news and take an honest look at the suffering of our planet. It just all felt magnified and immediate. I practice and teach mindfulness and meditation, not to escape, but to develop skills and the capacity of the heart to show up more fully in the world. So why, this time, did I feel like withdrawing into my shell? I have a pretty good guess. I took on too much emotionally, too fast. My enthusiasm for world news outpaced my protection.
How do we find protection from the challenges, without being in denial? How do we seek shelter and yet still be out there, making a difference?
One way is to reach out for support.
I turned to a trusted body worker, Anne-Marie Fafard. As she worked tenderly on my chest and back, sadness moved through in a wave of tears. They were tears for Gaia - our Mother Earth - and the suffering of humanity.
Through the sniffles and sometimes great gasps, I shared my desire to know what action I need to take, or not take in order to reduce my impact on this magnificent planet.
Anne-Marie, whispered; "Learn from Her (Mother Earth). She keeps giving, loving and bestowing us with beauty.
In that moment the divine feminine energy that includes all men, all women, the earth, galaxies, universes and all that arises in consciousness seemed so clear and loving. Referred to in yogic philosophy as Shakti, this loving presence knows no limitations, no boundaries. You know it. You are it. I teach how to recognize this divine feminine presence of which we are. Oh, how easily we can be overwhelmed and "forget" this presence that is always here.
Returning home, I had given the world news much more "air time" than divine presence. That is to simply say, I needed to pray more. I asked for guidance on how to be in the world, with care, with consciousness, without turning away from problems and with appreciation of all this is as it should be.
The answer isn't a one time shot. It becomes clearer each day when I really listen. A big piece of the answer is not to withdraw, but to keep giving, loving and sharing teachings that help each of us show up in this world and make it a better place. What an incredible time it is to be on this planet. Has humanity ever been so willing to find meaning in life? Has there ever been such a sense of urgency to globally shift our ways? Science is underscoring the validity of ancient wisdom teachings more than ever. What a time to be alive! Just look around you, wherever you are right now. What do you appreciate? Is there anything you have overlooked or take for granted? Welcome the beauty, joy or functionality of it.
I will continue to offer international retreats as long as I feel the benefit to those who attend outweigh the negative impact of my travel. Each heart that opens ripples out with an impact far greater than we can ever know. I have said no to the June retreat in Thailand, in favour of a weekend retreat here in July in Alberta. Carbon offset credits are my new friend. Material purchases that I make go through a more determined screening than ever before. Many more steps for reducing the impact of my footprint are yet to come. More opportunities to work online are now on my website..thanks for staying with me! These are personal choices. I make them alongside yours, in great respect for your decisions and priorities.
I've re-committed to my formal personal practice time. It is the first event in my calendar five days a week. Informal practice continues to percolate through my days and nights. I have vowed to not look at the news or email until I have honoured my morning practice of gentle movement and meditation. This gives me a ground of connection from which I can step out into the world with grace, appreciation and joy, without collapsing under the weight of it.
Life hack: Practice, Pray. Keep doing whatever you do to feel connected with loving presence. Reach out when you need help re-establishing or maintaining that connection. And as Dr. Rick Hanson says, "drink in the good", notice the goodness and beauty around you.
If you don't know how to access the ground of connection or need help knowing which practices will best support you, please reach out for my guidance.
We are never alone. We have enormous capacity to make a difference in our unique way. I am here with you.